Stan Lee, circa 1968

Goodbye, Uncle Stan Lee

I am saying goodbye to Uncle Stan Lee. Has been a day already, will be another couple of days. For me, this man is responsible for a good amount of the glory of my childhood (and the progression of a value system that has informed me as an adult). I was a Turkish kid running around the streets of Karachi, Pakistan believing in this goodness and vastness of adventure in a land called the USA because of the superheroes… the blessed sheer improbability of it all. And superheroes are the mythology of our present; a thousand years from now the mythology of the superheroes that Stan Lee gave birth to will be a continuation of what started with the Greeks.

Of course there is nostalgia here… the comic books I read together with my friends, exchanged, bartered, sold, fought over. The fact that my first ever comic book was Thor in 1975 (still have it) and every week I went on the hunt for the Avengers, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man (yes, he is an inspirational engineering benchmark!) and Captain America has massive meaning to me. The reality that my teenage daughter is a fanatic of the Marvel Universe (arguments of Marvel vs. DC are well and alive in our house), that I still read comic books and breathlessly go to the first show at the local IMAX when the movies are released speaks to how this mythology is part and parcel of our lives. All because of Uncle Stan Lee; he who wrote about vulnerability, bigotry, racism, equality, justice, passion, confusion of identity, belonging, love and loss of hope in a unique, creative and everlasting fashion.

But more than nostalgia there is aspiration here. An aspiration to lead, to create, to collaborate, to be part of a team, to break down hurdles, to do good on a large scale. Everyday at work, I am intentionally trying to be focused on such and everyday I visually coalesce these superheroes in my head in some way or fashion. That would not be possible if it wasn’t for Stan Lee. There is a reason why he is responsible for Marvel generating $17.6B in gate receipts from the Marvel movies in the last ten years… think of it… the value across multiple dimensions of what he created.

For all of us in this happy band of professionals who try to do our infinitesimal part to be epic and fearless and leave behind for our kids parts of us that are memorable and valuable for some timescale, I find a home of belief in what Uncle Stan Lee created.

And why is he Uncle Stan Lee to me? Because he is part of the family.

To Uncle Stan Lee, I offer this song from Glen Hansard (someone whose art is very dear to me… if you can, crank up the volume). Uncle Stan Lee, ride the eternal waves… Excelsior!